Church calls for end to Pakistan blasphemy law

 'Outdated' law is fuelling interreligious violence

The Methodist Church in Britain is calling on the Pakistanigovernment to repeal its controversial blasphemy law, and isencouraging Christians to sign an online petition.

The blasphemy law includes clauses that forbid defiling the Quranand defaming the prophet Mohammed. Under the current law, defilingthe Quran merits imprisonment for life and defaming Mohammed meritsdeath with or without a fine.

There is concern that the law is enflaming tensions betweenChristians and Muslims in Pakistan, and is being used to justifyviolence against Christians. In late July, three churches and 147homes were burned during violent attacks against Christians thatleft ten dead and made more than 290 families homeless.

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd David Gamble,has signed the petition (see here for details) and is urging others to dolikewise.

David said; "The blasphemy law is being used by some to fuelviolence between people of faith in Pakistan, rather than creatingrespect as it was once designed to do. Atrocities such as those wehave seen committed against Christians in recent days must bestopped and the Pakistani Government needs to prove its commitmentto protecting religious minorities by repealing this outdatedlaw."

So far more than 1,600 people have signed the petition, which hasbeen formulated by Christians and Muslims together and will bedelivered to the Pakistan Government, urging them to help preventfurther attacks.

A hi-res image of David is available for download at www.flickr.com/photos/methodistmedia.